Susan Smith Richardson named editor & publisher of The Chicago Reporter


Aug. 7, 2013

For more information, contact:

Laura S. Washington, 312-673-3838;


Susan Smith Richardson named editor & publisher of The Chicago Reporter

Veteran editor, reporter and columnist will lead the 40-year old investigative news hub into a new digitally-focused era.  Richardson takes over an iconic brand that has made national impact and won numerous awards.

Susan Smith Richardson has been named editor & publisher of The Chicago Reporter, the Community Renewal Society (CRS) announced today. 

Richardson is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience as a reporter, editor and columnist.  Her work has focused on race, poverty and social inequality, with an emphasis on blending narrative and data-driven journalism.  

“Susan Smith Richardson brings an extraordinary range of talents and journalistic experience, and a deep commitment to social justice,” said Alexander Sharp, acting executive director of CRS, which publishes the Reporter.  “Under her leadership, the Reporter will break new investigative ground for years to come.” 

She possesses first-rate journalism credentials, solid ties to philanthropy, and embraces the importance of addressing the nation’s racial and economic inequities,” said Laura S. Washington, the Reporter’s interim publisher.

“With her unique mix of skills, connections and savvy,” Washington added, “she’s ready to lead the Reporter as it expands its digital footprint.  I look forward to watching her take us to new heights.”

“Race and class are hot-button issues in Chicago and the nation. Through its formidable investigative reporting, the Reporter has exposed the many ways in which these issues play out in the city, state and nation,” said Richardson. “Moving forward, we need to maintain our commitment to reporting about social and economic inequality while developing new storytelling techniques and editorial features, and a digital presence to engage a broader audience in an informed conversation about race and class.”

As managing editor of The Texas Observer, a nonprofit, investigative online news journal, Richardson developed an award-winning culture section that explored the intersection of popular culture, politics and social change. As the public education editor at the Chicago Tribune, she was responsible for a series that galvanized community action around the rising homicide rate among Chicago youth.

At the Austin American-Statesman, she wrote a series of columns looking at the gentrification of African American and Latino communities. 

Richardson has also worked in higher education, recently serving as a research fellow at the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas School of Law.  From 2007 to 2011, she was a senior writer at the MacArthur Foundation.

In 2002, she received a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, and continued her studies at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, earning a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in 2004.

A distinguished search committee recommended Richardson from a stellar pool of candidates from around the nation, Washington noted.  “The committee agreed that Susan’s credentials and intellect are first-rate.  We are extremely grateful to the committee for contributing their wisdom and expertise to this singular task.” 

Richardson follows former publisher Kimbriell Kelly, who left the Reporter in the fall of 2012 to become an investigative reporter at The Washington Post.  Since then Washington has been serving as interim publisher and leading the search for the Reporter’s new leader.

Richardson will join the staff on Sept. 18. 

The Reporter was founded at the Community Renewal Society in 1972 by civil rights activist John A. McDermott.  Through its dispassionate yet exhaustive reporting, it has broken dozens of stories documenting widespread racial discrimination in corporate hiring, city services and governmental affairs.  Today the Reporter has evolved into a multi-platform news operation encompassing a magazine, web site and its Chicago Muckrakers blog.  The Reporter is a “must read” for legislators, policy makers and academics, community and civic leaders, and its staff has won many honors, including the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Clarion Award, dozens of Lisagor Awards, among many others. 

The Reporter may be best known for an investigation that led to an $8.7 billion national settlement in 2008 against Countrywide, the nation's largest mortgage lender and servicer, for its unfair lending practices to minorities. In 2011, its work also played a role in a $335 million settlement over discriminatory lending between the U.S. Department of Justice, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Countrywide.  

As the journalism industry embraces digital publishing and innovative and sustainable nonprofit news models, Richardson will execute its new digital plan and leverage the Reporter’s talented staff, media partnerships, and other assets to expand its reporting, impact and revenue. For more information on the Reporter, visit:


See Below for: A PDF version of this release, a bio of Susan Smith Richardson, and a search committee roster




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